A new national report ranks Missouri 32nd in the well-being of children – down four spots from last year’s report. The annual Kids Count report is from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization that works to improve the well-being of children.

The Foundation used 2022 government data to compile its work. Missouri ranked highest in the education of children, coming in at 23rd. Last year’s report ranked Missouri 22nd in education.

The Foundation’s president and CEO, Lisa Hamilton, said like national trends, Missouri’s educational achievement rates are heading in the wrong direction. She said the pandemic has lowered access to preschool, math and reading scores, and high school graduation rates.

“We talked in depth about two key contributors to those low numbers. The first is chronic absence,” said Hamilton. “In Missouri, you have 20% of students are chronically absent. The second topic we talk about is for childhood trauma. And this could be every everything from poverty, to violence, to a parent who’s incarcerated. In Missouri, it’s 43% of students with a childhood trauma. This can affect their focus in school and contribute to that chronic absence.”

Hamilton reminds Missouri that unspent federal pandemic funding for schools must be designated by September 30th.

“There’s certainly things that the state can do and certainly all states can do that help make sure our kids are on track for a healthy adulthood,” she said.

Economic well-being followed with a ranking of 25th. In 2022, about 225,000 Missouri children were living in poverty.

Family and community ranked 29th. The data shows about 427,000 Missouri children living in single-parent households. Missouri’s teen birth rate remained the same – 17 teen births per 1,000.

Missouri’s worst ranking is in the area of health. The state is ranked 40th in the health of children, compared to last year’s ranking of 35th.

The report said 591 Missouri children died in 2022. Missouri’s number of babies born underweight also slightly increased to 9.1%.

About 6% of Missouri children do not have health insurance, which is about the same as the previous report. About 33% of children, ages 10 to 17, are overweight or obese, compared to 34% the previous year.

“Overall, the trends are discouraging, said Hamilton.

To check out the 2024 Kids Count Data Book, click here.

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